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The Nazis Go Underground

by Curt Riess
1944, Dou­ble­day, Doran and Co., Inc.
LCCN: 44007162
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The Third Reich’s elab­o­rate plans for post­war under­ground sur­vival and con­ti­nu­ity were pred­i­cat­ed on the cer­tain­ty that the multi­na­tion­al cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ty would pre­serve the Nazi infra­struc­ture as a bul­wark against com­mu­nism dur­ing the (then) immi­nent Cold War. This “Under­ground Reich” was fore­seen and ana­lyzed in Curt Reiss’s The Nazis Go Under­ground, pub­lished in ear­ly 1944. In addi­tion to the pow­er­ful cor­po­rate eco­nom­ic inter­ests allied with Nazi busi­ness cen­ters, the process of under­ground per­pet­u­a­tion was great­ly aid­ed by “Fifth Col­umn” move­ments abroad—those in Argenti­na and the Unit­ed States in par­tic­u­lar. Com­posed of ide­o­log­i­cal sup­port­ers of the fas­cist phi­los­o­phy, these Fifth Col­umn move­ments were instru­men­tal in real­iz­ing Nazi blue­prints for mil­i­tary con­quest dur­ing the war, as well as post­war con­tin­u­a­tion and enlarge­ment of those plans.

Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance in Reiss’s pro­jec­tion of post­war Nazi con­ti­nu­ity is the Thyssen fam­i­ly of Ger­man indus­tri­al­ists. Head­ed by Fritz Thyssen (Hitler’s first promi­nent finan­cial backer in Ger­many), the Thyssen firm was a lynch­pin of Ger­man and Nazi heavy indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion and was deeply con­nect­ed to pow­er­ful cor­po­rate inter­ests abroad. Para­mount among the for­eign cor­po­rate allies of the Thyssens were the Har­ri­man inter­ests, includ­ing George Her­bert Walk­er and Prescott Bush Sr., the great grand­fa­ther and grand­fa­ther (respec­tive­ly) of the cur­rent seat­ed pres­i­dent. FTR#’s 273 [2], 361 [3], 370 [4], 435 [5] high­light the gen­e­sis of the Thyssen/Harriman/Bush axis, as well as its suc­cess­ful post­war con­tin­u­a­tion as part of the Under­ground Reich.

Curt Reiss believed that the Nazis would seek to exploit the large Fifth Col­umn move­ment in the Unit­ed States in order to expand their influ­ence in Amer­i­ca in the post­war peri­od. In addi­tion to pow­er­ful Amer­i­can indus­tri­al and polit­i­cal fig­ures sym­pa­thet­ic to the Nazi per­sua­sion, Reiss fore­saw an alliance between reac­tionary fun­da­men­tal­ist Amer­i­can Chris­tians and Nazis as a like­ly devel­op­ment. It is inter­est­ing to reflect on his pro­jec­tions against the back­ground of the growth of the Chris­t­ian Right in recent years. (For more about this sub­ject, see FTR#497 [6].)

In order to assure place­ment of impor­tant Nazis in post­war Ger­many in secure posi­tions, Reiss projects that the Third Reich would implant trust­ed oper­a­tives in munic­i­pal orga­ni­za­tions essen­tial to main­tain infra­struc­ture, such as the police, fire depart­ments and pub­lic util­i­ties. By plac­ing SS and Gestapo vet­er­ans in posi­tions deemed essen­tial to main­tain post­war soci­ety, the Nazis would be able to guar­an­tee the sur­vival of a viable polit­i­cal under­ground dis­trib­uted through­out the coun­try. (In FTR#421 [7], we exam­ined the curi­ous cir­cum­stances of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father Gus­tav. There is evi­dence to sug­gest that the elder Schwarzenegger—a small town police chief–may have been one of these under­ground oper­a­tives. Sup­ple­men­tal infor­ma­tion about Schwarzeneg­ger Sr. is con­tained in FTR#529 [8].)